David Cameron has made a direct appeal to voters of his generation and older not to condemn their children and grandchildren to the consequences of Brexit. The appeal came in a surprise statement that followed the publishing of two polls showing that the EU referendum remains too close to call.
A Survation phone poll published at 1.30pm on Tuesday gave the Remain camp the narrowest of leads. It followed an online poll by YouGov earlier in the afternoon that put Leave ahead.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street to give an impromptu speech, the Prime Minister said it would be the young and “those yet to be born” who would be hit hardest by the economic damage that experts predict will follow in the wake of a vote to leave.
“It is for that reason I want to speak very directly to my generation and older,” Mr Cameron said.
“I know Europe isn’t perfect. Believe me. I understand and I see those frustrations. I feel them myself. That is why we renegotiated and enhanced our special status, out of the Euro, keeping our borders, not involved in ever-closer union. We have the best of both worlds.
“So as you take this decision, whether to Remain or Leave, do think about the hopes and dreams of your children and your grandchildren. They know their chances to work, to travel, to build the kind of open and successful society they want to live in rests on this outcome.
“Remember, they can’t undo the decision we take. If we vote out, that’s it. It is irreversible. We will leave Europe for good, and the next generation will have to live with the consequences far longer than the rest of us.”
Earlier surveys had suggested Remain is gaining ground again, with three polls giving it the lead in recent days.
The pound also surged yesterday as global stock markets appeared to gain confidence in a Remain victory. Sterling saw its biggest one-day increases against the dollar in seven years, following previous falls. The pound was more stable in early morning trading on Tuesday, 21 June 2016, up 0.1 per cent at $1.4711.
Mr Cameron's speech was criticised by Leave campaigners, who accused him of breaching the "spirit of purdah" after delivering a pro-Remain statement in front of the famous black door of 10 Downing Street.
Leading Tory Eurosceptic Bernard Jenkin claimed Mr Cameron would not have used Downing Street to deliver such a statement during a general election campaign.
He said: "It's certainly a breach of the spirit of purdah. Ministers aren't meant to use public funds or public resources during the purdah period.
"It can be argued it doesn't apply to his own residence but I would have thought use of Downing Street facilities is a breach of the spirit of purdah.
"He would not do that during a general election."
The EU referendum debate has so far been characterised by bias, distortion and exaggeration. So until 23 June we we’re running a series of question and answer features that explain the most important issues in a detailed, dispassionate way to help inform your decision.
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